Cape Town - School days are set to be lengthened, by up to an hour each day, to accommodate the teaching of a third - African - language to every pupil.
Each day will be between 24 minutes and an hour longer for pupils.
This emerged in the Incremental Introduction of African Languages in South African Schools draft policy, which provided details of how the policy would work.
The proposed policy, which was being circulated this week, would see a third language introduced incrementally from grades R to 12.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said two weeks ago that the initiative would be phased in next year by piloting it in 10 schools in each district of each province.
The draft policy said the amount of time allocated to the teaching of languages would have to be increased.
It said taking away time allocated to other subjects, especially maths and science, would have “negative impacts on results.
“Consequently, the school day will need to be extended to allow for an increase in instructional time. Research from a variety of countries has shown that the amount of time available for teaching and learning academic subjects, and how well that time is used by pupils and teachers, is consistently related to how much children learn while they are in school.”
It said the instructional time for grades R to 2 would be extended by two hours a week while Grade 3 would be extended by three hours a week.
The school day for grades 4 to 12 would be increased by an hour a day.
Under the current curriculum, pupils were expected to learn two languages - their home language and an additional language.
They were required to start schooling in their home language as their language of learning and teaching until the end of Grade 3.
In Grade 4, pupils were then expected to switch to English as their language of learning and teaching, resulting in many not properly grasping concepts.
The objectives of the proposed new policy were:
The draft policy acknowledged that the incremental introduction of African languages would have resource implications and that additional books would have to be sourced. At least one African language teacher would have to be appointed at each school.
However, the draft policy said, other models might be appropriate at other schools.
Additional funding for books, additional staff and training would have to be sought from the Treasury.
Basil Manuel, president of the National Professional Teachers Organisation of SA, said the addition of time to the school day was a “thorny issue”.
“That concerns me. This is a major increase. It sounds negligible but it does lengthen the day considerably.”
He said this would not affect teachers as they were already required to be at school for seven hours each day, but it would lengthen contact time with pupils.
Manuel said he was unhappy that the policy considered the use of multigrade teaching.
SA Democratic Teachers Union general secretary Mugwena Maluleke had said he was in favour of the policy, but was concerned about shortages of primary school African language teachers.